Sabado, Marso 19, 2011

Political Career : Benigno Aquino, Jr.

Beningo Aquino was no stranger to Philippine politics. He came from a family that had been involved with some of the country's political heavyweights. His grandfather served under President Aguinaldo, while his father held office under Presidents Quezon and Laurel.

Benigno Aquino became the youngest municipal mayor at age 22, and the nation's youngest vice-governor at 27.

He became governor of Tarlac province in 1961 at age 29, then secretary-general of the Liberal Party in 1966.

In 1967 he made history by becoming the youngest elected senator in the country's history at age 34.

He was the only "survivor" of the Liberal Party who made it to the senate, where he was inevitably singled out by Marcos and his allies as their greatest threat. In 1968, during his first year as senator, Aquino warned that Marcos was on the road to establishing "a garrison state" by "ballooning the armed forces budget", saddling the defense establishment with "overstaying generals" and "militarizing our civilian government offices"—all these caveats were uttered barely four years before martial law.

In myriad ways Aquino bedeviled the Marcos regime, chipping away at its monolithic facade. His most celebrated speech, "A Pantheon for Imelda", was delivered on February 10, 1969. He assailed the P50 million Cultural Center, the first project of First Lady Imelda Marcos as extravagant, and dubbed it "a monument to shame" and calling its creator, a megalomaniac, with a penchant to captivate. By the end of the day, the country's broadsheets had blared that he labeled the President's wife, his cousin Paz's former ward, the Philippines' Eva Peron.

President Marcos, who came to power by uniting the votes from both the north and the south, by his 11-day courtship and marriage to a Romualdez thought as a political gambit, was outraged. He called Aquino "a congenital liar". The First Lady's friends angrily accused Aquino of being "ungallant". These so-called "fiscalisation" tactics of Aquino quickly became his trademark in the Senate. During his tenure as Senator, he was selected by the Philippine Free Press magazine as one of the nation's most outstanding Senators. His achievements at such a young age earned him the moniker "Wonder Boy" of Philippine politics.

Aquino was seen as a contender by many for the highest office in the land, the presidency. Among insiders at the palace, Aquino was a threat far bigger than expected. He knew too much about the president's wife before her rise to power, as a daughter of the impoverished Vicente Orestes Romualdez branch (the third and most junior cadet branch) as compared to the propertied Miguel Romualdez branch and the learned Norberto Romualdez branch--- the only Romualdezes that Manilans outside of Leyte knew. This contradicted greatly to how Ferdinand Marcos presented his wife and how his machinery capitalized an idyllic love match, even creating a movie, "Iginuhit ng Tadhana" starring Gloria Romero They feared the public would contend the president won the recent elections by outright fraud. Also, as the husband of Cory Aquino, his negative pronouncements against the Marcos government was regarded as personal, not political. Many still remember the sight of a hapless Imelda Romualdez made to wear an embarrassing flapper dress in one of the grand parties hosted by Pedro Cojuangco (Cory Aquino's brother). She went home to Speaker 

Romualdez's Dapitan Avenue Extension, Quezon City home to the arms of her uncle's wife Pacing, feeling slighted by Pampanga's richest and powerful.
Surveys during those times showed that he was the number one choice among Filipinos, since President Marcos by law was prohibited from serving another term.

Ninoy was a guaranteed winner in the next presidential elections, had there been one.

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